Guest poem sent in by Fabian Panthaki
(Poem #1912) The Rainy Day
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the moldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary. My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast And the days are dark and dreary. Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.
One of Longfellow's shorter poems, this one tends to get overlooked in a selection of his 'best works'. Perhaps it's the slighlty mawkish tone, or the perception that he's trying just a bit too hard to evoke pathos. And certainly, the opening line of the last stanza could have done without that trademark exclamation. Yet, for all that, it remains one of my favourite, and oft-quoted, poems. It always evokes the classic 'poet' image - angst-ridden, weary, yearning for perfection. I imagine Longfellow sitting in a high-backed chair in a dank and gloomy study, a single candle burning low, looking out onto one of those miserable October evenings. An image reinforced - or perhaps, perpetuated - by the use at key intervals of the words 'dark' and 'dreary'. The poem itself is perhaps a touch simplistic, yet that is its charm. It's the sort of poem all aspiring poets would think they could write, yet it is Longfellow's mastery of the trite phrase that shows us how it is meant to be. It is one of the best examples of the 'oh-this-world-is-too-much-for-me' genre, that most poets attempt at some point, due to jilting lovers or lack of hot chocolate. The rhythm is not unalike classic Frost - read aloud it trips off one's tongue in a very minstrels-around-a-Welsh-campfire way. I love the way he evokes such imagery in such a short piece and divides it so perfectly - the setting, the thought, the moral. The poem says what we all know, but Longfellow turns common knowledge into a slogan (Into each life some rain must fall). In a sense, its the reverse of the cloud and silver lining analogy. Not deeply profound, not earth-shattering, almost certain to get you pitying looks by 'serious' poetry lovers...but yet, elegantly beautiful. Fabian